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Sustainable Pharmaceutical Manufacturing: Autonomous Development of Telescoped Catalytic Reactions


Key facts

Type of research degree
Application deadline
Ongoing deadline
Country eligibility
UK only
Source of funding
Doctoral training partnership
Professor Richard Bourne and Dr Adam Clayton
Additional supervisors
Professor John Blacker, Professor Nik Kapur, Dr Thomas Chamberlain
School of Chemical and Process Engineering, School of Chemistry
Research groups/institutes
Institute of Process Research and Development
<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Summary</h2>

Are you a Chemist or Chemical Engineer looking to have a positive real-world impact on the sustainability of pharmaceutical manufacturing? Throughout this project you will develop a multidisciplinary skillset in flow chemistry, organic synthesis, and programming/reactor automation, which you will use to create new approaches for multistep chemical synthesis. In addition, this work will be conducted in collaboration with industrial partners, including multinational pharmaceutical companies.<br /> <br /> Pharmaceutical manufacturing typically uses batch processing at multiple locations, requiring several energy-intensive purification and transportation steps, resulting in a large carbon footprint. Combination of reaction steps in uninterrupted reaction networks (&lsquo;telescoping&rsquo;) has the potential to greatly improve the sustainability of manufacturing processes. Of particular interest, but also significant challenge, is the integration of different types of catalysis (chemical, biological, photo) within a synthetic pathway. This interdisciplinary project, based across the Schools of Chemistry and Chemical Engineering at the University of Leeds, will investigate flow chemistry and machine learning approaches for the development of telescoped catalytic reactions, which will enable the design of novel and sustainable pathways for pharmaceutical synthesis.

<h2 class="heading hide-accessible">Full description</h2>

<p>This project has two key objectives, each with its own significant academic research challenge:</p> <p>(i) Develop novel procedures for the self-optimisation of multi-step continuous flow processes (see <a href=""></a> for an example of our previous work in this area). Machine learning techniques will be coupled with online multipoint analysis to rapidly explore complex interactions between catalytic steps. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>(ii) Design new multi-step reactor configurations for the telescoping of catalytic steps. Catalytic reactions will be investigated under continuous flow conditions, and different types of catalysts compartmentalised to enable operation at divergent reaction conditions.</p> <p>Research areas (i) and (ii) will be coupled to enable integration of different types of catalysts within a synthetic pathway, and the technology demonstrated towards the synthesis of pharmaceutically relevant compounds. This work will be conducted within the Institute of Process Research and Development (<a href=""></a>).<br /> &nbsp;</p>

<h2 class="heading">How to apply</h2>

<p>Formal applications for research degree study should be made online through the&nbsp;<a href="">University&#39;s website</a>. Please state clearly in the Planned Course of Study that you are applying for <em><strong>PhD Chemical &amp; Process Engineering</strong></em> and in the research information section&nbsp;that the research degree you wish to be considered for is Sustainable Pharmaceutical Manufacturing: Autonomous Development of Telescoped Catalytic Reactions as well as&nbsp;<a href="">Dr Adam Clayton</a> as your proposed supervisor.</p> <p>If English is not your first language, you must provide evidence that you meet the University&#39;s minimum English language requirements (below).</p> <p><em>As an international research-intensive university, we welcome students from all walks of life and from across the world. We foster an inclusive environment where all can flourish and prosper, and we are proud of our strong commitment to student education. Across all Faculties we are dedicated to diversifying our community and we welcome the unique contributions that individuals can bring, and particularly encourage applications from, but not limited to Black, Asian, people who belong to a minority ethnic community, people who identify as LGBT+ and people with disabilities. Applicants will always be selected based on merit and ability.</em></p> <p class="MsoNoSpacing">Applications will be considered on an ongoing basis. &nbsp;Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the supervisors for an informal discussion before making a formal application. &nbsp;We also advise that you apply at the earliest opportunity as the application and selection process may close early, should we receive a sufficient number of applications or that a suitable candidate is appointed.</p> <p>Please note that you must provide the following documents at the point you submit your application:</p> <ul> <li class="MsoNoSpacing" style="margin-left:8px">Full Transcripts of all degree study or if in final year of study, full transcripts to date</li> <li>Personal Statement outlining your interest in the project</li> <li>CV</li> <li>Funding information including any alternative sources of funding that you are applying for or if you are able to pay your own fees and maintenance</li> </ul>

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">Entry requirements</h2>

Applicants to research degree programmes should normally have at least a first class or an upper second class British Bachelors Honours degree (or equivalent) in an appropriate discipline. The criteria for entry for some research degrees may be higher, for example, several faculties, also require a Masters degree. Applicants are advised to check with the relevant School prior to making an application. Applicants who are uncertain about the requirements for a particular research degree are advised to contact the School or Graduate School prior to making an application.

<h2 class="heading heading--sm">English language requirements</h2>

The minimum English language entry requirement for research postgraduate research study is an IELTS of 6.0 overall with at least 5.5 in each component (reading, writing, listening and speaking) or equivalent. The test must be dated within two years of the start date of the course in order to be valid. Some schools and faculties have a higher requirement.

<h2 class="heading">Funding on offer</h2>

<p class="MsoNoSpacing">A highly competitive EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership Studentship consisting of the award of fees with a maintenance grant (currently &pound;17,688 per year in academic session 2022/23) for 3.5 years.<br /> <br /> This opportunity is open to UK applicants only. All candidates will be placed into the EPSRC Doctoral Training Partnership Studentship Competition and selection is based on academic merit.<br /> <br /> Please refer to the&nbsp;<a href="">UKCISA</a>&nbsp;website for&nbsp;information regarding Fee Status for Non-UK Nationals.</p>

<h2 class="heading">Contact details</h2>

<p>For further information about this project, please contact Dr Adam Clayton</p> <p>e: <a href=""></a></p> <p>For further information about your application, please contact the Doctoral College Admissions</p> <p>e: <a href=""></a> (Chemical and Process Engineering)</p>